ONS, Norway's biennial oil and gas industry conference and exhibition, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry staple event was due to be held in Norway's oil capital of Stavanger from 31 August to 3 September this year.

However, event host the ONS Foundation was forced to pull the plug on the show after Norwegian authorities on Saturday prohibited all events of more than 500 people until 1 September.

"For ONS, the decision is truly hard to take, but the health and safety of all our visitors, exhibitors and other participants must be the number one priority," the ONS Foundation said.

'Heavy heart'

"ONS gathers around 70,000 people from over 100 countries during the four days of the event. With the situation of the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, it would be impossible to go through with this year´s planned event."

'Heavy heart': ONS president and chief executive Leif Johan Sevland Photo: MARIE VON KROGH

ONS president and chief executive Leif Johan Sevland said: "It is with a heavy heart we have to cancel ONS 2020. ONS is of great importance for many, however health and safety must come first.

"We are now working through the implications of this unprecedented situation.

"Thereafter we will try to bring some of our programme in digital formats and continue the work to bring you the best possible ONS 2022 event."

It is the first time that ONS has been cancelled. The event was first held in 1974 and has been a biennial event ever since.

List of axed events grows

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation or postponement of numerous industry conferences.

In early April, the annual Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, which was set to open on 4 May, was cancelled. In mid-March it had been postponed until the third quarter.

In early March, the Houston oil capital also saw the cancellation of IHS Markit's CERAWeek conference, which was due to be held from 9 to 13 March.

In mid-February, organisers of this year’s China International Petroleum & Petrochemical Technology & Equipment Exhibition, or cippe2020, postponed the Beijing event because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The event, due to be held on 26 to 28 March, is now scheduled for 3 to 5 July.

Another major industry event this year, the triennial World Petroleum Congress (WPC), is still on course for Houston between 6 and 10 December, however.